No annexation of Judea and Samaria before Trump peace plan unveiled, says Danon

Israel’s U.N. envoy says any pre-election pledges regarding annexation will wait until Israel studies Trump’s deal of the century.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israeli envoy to the United Nations Danny Danon said Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is unlikely to make any move towards fulfilling his campaign promise to annex areas of Judea and Samaria before studying the upcoming American peace proposal.

Speaking to reporters at about the same time that President Reuven Rivlin was formally authorizing Netanyahu to form a new government,  Danon said, “I don’t think that we will see any major action by our government before the peace plan will be presented.”

Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s point man on formulating the so-called “Deal of the Century,” confirmed this week that the finished plan is set to be unveiled in June. The date takes into consideration that Israeli coalition deal-making could last as long as six weeks and that the Muslim month-long fast of Ramadan ends on June 4.

The idea of applying sovereignty to at least what is known as Area C, where Israel has both military and civilian control, is not new to the Likud. In December 1917  the party’s central committee called on “Likud’s elected leaders to work to allow unhindered construction and to extend Israeli law and sovereignty in all the areas of liberated settlement in Judea and Samaria.”

Three days before the elections, Netanyahu publicly pledged to apply sovereignty over all Jewish villages and towns in Judea and Samaria. He also specified that he would not differentiate between the large settlement blocs, which the vast majority of Israelis believe should be kept by Israel in any peace agreement, and the “isolated points” that are not necessarily within the consensus.

The area, Danon told reporters, is “disputed territory according to international law, but we acknowledge that the Palestinians will stay there and will live there.” However, “We don’t hear recognition from the other side that there are Jews living there, and they should accept that.”

He unreservedly backed the prime minister’s stated promise to study the plan presented by an administration that is considered the most pro-Israel one in history.

“We will see the plan. We will engage and I don’t know where it will lead us,” Danon said, adding that he hoped the Palestinians will back down from their oft-stated rejection of the deal, whose details have been kept from both sides.

New Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh was the most recent official to do so, telling The Associated Press on Tuesday that the American plan will be “born dead.”

“We believe at the end they will have to engage with Israel,” Danon said. “They will have to recognize Israel, and they will have to live with Israelis. … So the sooner they will acknowledge that, the better it will be for the Palestinians.”

“The Palestinians try to get the outcome before entering the dialogue. It doesn’t work that way,” he added. “It’s legitimate to demand and to have expectations, but they want their expectations to be approved before the dialogue.”

AP contributed to this report.